FRIDAY, May 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Active children have a healthier distribution of body fat, regardless of their weight, according to a new study.
"These results are interesting because it wasn't a weight-loss study. More than half the kids who participated were at a healthy weight, and that allowed us to observe how exercise or lack of exercise affected body composition in normal-weight and overweight children," Naiman Khan, a postdoctoral researcher in the division of nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois, said in a university news release.
The study included 220 children who were either 8 or 9 years old. The children were assigned to either a nine-month exercise regimen or to a group with no exercise program (the "control" group). The youngsters in the exercise group took part in a physical activity program for 70 minutes a day, five days a week.
After nine months, the participants in the exercise group "had improved cardiovascular fitness, less overall body fat, and carried less fat around their abdomens, a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. The opposite was true for the control group who maintained their regular after-school routine," said Khan.